By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University hit .221 as a team, but visiting Northwest Christian University defeated the Bearcats, 3-1, in a non-conference volleyball match on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at Cone Field House. NCU won 25-15, 25-19 , 16-25, 25-15. The Beacons upped their record to 8-1 on the season, while Willamette moved to 1-4.
Jennifer Lane (Sr., MH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) continued her strong start to the season for the Bearcats by contributing 12 kills. She has earned double-digit kills in all five matches. Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) provided WU with nine kilsl and 10 digs, while Dani Queja (Fy., OH, Ewa Bach, HI/Maryknoll School) tacked on eight kills and 10 digs. Kyana Benjamin (Jr., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS) registered seven kill and no errors on 14 total attacks for a.500 hitting percentage.
Emma Porter (Fy., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) of Willamette finished with 36 assists and eight digs. Lexi Martin (Fy., MH, Bellevue, WAI/nterlake HS) chipped in six kills while hitting .333.
The Beacons were led by Payton Jones with 13 kills and by Claire Salness with 10 kills and 10 digs. Jones achieved a match-high .545 hitting percentage among attackers with 10 or more attempts. Natalie Downes supplied NCU with nine kills. McKenna Northern was credited with 35 assists and eight digs for the Beacons. Northern led all players with five service aces.
WU and NCU were tied at 6-6 after 12 rallies in the first set. The Beacons scored the next three points to start a 6-2 run that created a 12-8 advantage. After Lane put down a kill for Willamette on the next rally, Northwest Chrsitian responded with another 6-2 run for an 18-11 edge. Porter followed with a kill for WU, but the Bearcats never got closer as the Beacons won the set, 25-15.
Leads of 8-2 and 9-4 helped the Beacons win the second set. Two of NCU's first eight points were scored on service aces by Jolinn Daviscourt. Willamette reduced the margin to three points several times, before the Beacons tallied three points in a row for a 16-10 lead. The Bearcats battled back to within 18-15 on a kill by Benjamin and trailed just 19-16 after NCU committed a serving error. The Beacons ended the set with a 6-3 run for a 25-19 victory.
Willamette controlled most of the third set on its way to a 25-16 triumph. The Bearcats hit an impressive .407 during the set with 14 kills and only three attacking errors. Willamette zoomed out to a 13-1 lead following 10 consecutive points with Jessica Nash (Fy., S, Santa Clarita, CA/Saugus HS) serving. Nash's string of success included two service aces. WU later held a 16-4 advantage. The Beacons answered with a 6-2 surge to cut the margin to 18-10.
The Bearcats eventually regained a double-digit lead at 22-12 following a service ace by Queja. On the next rally, Queja produced another service ace. A bit later, a kill by Lane gave WU a 24-15 edge. After NCU cut the margin to 24-16, Benjamin added a kill for the Bearcats to end the set.
Northwest Christian opened the fourth set by building a 10-4 lead. The Beacons also owned a 13-6 margin, but WU scored the next four points on kills by Benjamin, Porter, Queja and Klotz to cut the lead to 13-10, forcing a timeout by NCU. Following the timeout, the Beacons tacked on four consecutive points to led 17-10. NCU won the set, 25-15.
Willamette will be competing at the Molton Spoke It Up Classic on Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday, Sept. 7 at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Bearcats will take on University of La Verne (Calif.) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday, before battling Colorado College and LeTourneau University (Texas) on Saturday.